By: Elizabeth Donovan, M.A.
Summer is in full swing and you’ll find girls of all ages sporting swim wear at beaches and pools. But for many parents, the controversy is not over their tweens and teens wearing whether or not to wear a bikini or one-piece – but rather, how swimsuits seem to be becoming smaller and smaller.
As a mom of three small girls (ages 2, 5, and 7) I spend a lot of time in department stores and online shopping for the perfect pair of pants, coolest Crocs, and savviest summer trends. But to be perfectly honest, I’ve had a hard time finding cute swimsuits that are ‘age appropriate’ for young girls. What do I mean? Well, all you have to do is walk into your local mall or department store and you’ll see the likes of super low-cut bikini’s coupled with accessories that make little girls look like grown women.
It’s true that the rise of the “thong” in the early 90′s created quite a stir, but mostly the “sexy” swimsuit styles have been reserved for adult women. Lately, the sexy swimsuit marketing trend seems to be targeted at the teen and tween age group making for “barely there” swim wear. Case and point? Look no farther than popular family stores like Kohls, Target, Delia, and Justice. You’ll find super-skinny, tiny-winy bikini’s. For example, check out this little number on Delias website to the right…quite skimpy, isn’t it?
My intention is certainly not to single-out Delias. You’ll find a mix of appropriate and inappropriate swimsuits for girls in nearly every tween and teen store in the mall. My point, moreover, is that many young girls feel social pressure to wear these swimsuits and many parents struggle with how to handle a world that is constantly telling their daughter’s they must be sexy from a very young age.
And it seems, I’m not alone in my angst. Check out what these parents of girls had to say:
“From triangle swimsuit tops to barely there briefs, little girls’ swimsuits aren’t leaving much to the imagination. “Why are we dressing our little girls in styles that in five or ten years we will balk at with our teens?” –Jen Taylor, Canada
“I went looking for a suit for my 5-year-old this year and could not find a basic one-piece tank suit in size 4-7.” –Erin Ruff, Oregon
“So we were looking for a Tween suit.. OH MY GOSH, THE HORROR. I hate bikinis much less TINY tankinis.” –Carissa Rogers
“I’ve just made the rounds of stores searching for a suit for my four year old girl. Our requirements were: bright colors for visibility, no characters, no triangle-boobies, and her bum had to be covered. Guess how many stores I had to search? We ended up buying boy’s trunks with sharks from one store and a tankini top online. Even the tankini top, a size 5T, is cut lower than we expected and we tie the straps with a ponytail holder for a bit more modesty. Frankly, I would rather have young girls be in a natural state and go topless than wear sexualized tops that blur the line of taboo and suggest, in any way, that there is something sexual about our daughters. There is nothing sexual about childhood.” –Melissa Wardy, owner of Pigtail Pals.
So how do you handle your daughter’s bathing suit dilemmas? Do you allow her to wear two pieces or insist on one-piece or tankini styles?
- Bikini Baby
- How to Find Great Fitting Clothes for Preteen Girls.
- ‘Fatkini’ blogger designs stylish plus-size bikinis
- Spring and Summer Girls Fashion Review from Marshalls & T.J. Maxx!
- Tween Girls Expand the Make-up Market